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Today's Word



Nov 8, 2021
This week’s theme
Counterpart words

This week’s words
spear side

9 out of 10 children get their awesomeness from their aunt
Image: Someecards

Previous week’s theme
There’s a word for it
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with Anu Garg

Did you hear about the new competitor to the gas station chain Arco? They are calling it Pizzicato.*

This joke came to my mind the other day while I was filling my Prius. Next to the pump was a convenience store named ampm. I started thinking about other examples of counterparts of words: am/pm, AC/DC, treble/bass, aa/pahoehoe, and so on.

Those you knew. For this week’s A.Word.A.Day I have picked counterparts of words that are not as common.

What word is missing a counterpart? What would you like its counterpart to be? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. As always, include your location (city, state).

*What the pluck does that mean?! If you find yourself scratching your head, consult your nearest violinist.

Arco: Playing a violin or another string instrument with a bow (from Italian arco: bow)
Pizzicato: Playing by plucking the strings instead (from Italian pizzicare: to pluck)

The gas store name Arco is an initialism for Atlantic Richfield Company. There’s no music in oil.
Not even rock music, even though petroleum is, literally, rock oil.



adjective: Characteristic of, or in the manner of, an aunt.

From Latin matertera (maternal aunt), from mater- (mother). Ultimately from the Indo-European root mater (mother), which also gave us mother, material, matter, matrix, and matrimony. Earliest documented use: 1823.

This word is the feminine counterpart of the word avuncular (like an uncle). Materteral has its origin in the maternal aunt, but now it’s applied to aunts on both sides, just as the word aunt originally meant paternal aunt, from Latin amita (father’s sister), from amare (to love), but now applies to aunts of all kinds (including an ant’s aunt).

“Several things had prevented me from giving full attention to my nephew, X. Let us examine this lack of materteral attention and its causes.”
Kirstin Scott; Motherlunge; Western Michigan University; 2013.

Once and for all / the idea of glorious victories / won by the glorious army / must be wiped out / Neither side is glorious / On either side they're just frightened men messing their pants / and they all want the same thing / Not to lie under the earth / but to walk upon it / without crutches. -Peter Weiss, writer, artist, and filmmaker (8 Nov 1916-1982)

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